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Spring 2019, Practice Management

The Importance of Veterinary Technicians

Abbie HathawayCVT | Banfield Pet Hospital, Vancouver, Wash.

Abbie’s career in veterinary medicine began nearly 12 years ago, following her undergraduate studies at the University of Southern California. After gaining experience in retail management, Abbie started as a veterinary assistant, then earned her veterinary technician credentials and evolved her leadership skills as a practice manager. In her current role as Program Manager of Veterinary Technician Training, Abbie supports current and aspiring veterinary technicians across Banfield Pet Hospital’s more than 1000 hospitals nationwide to help create healthy workplace environments and enable lifelong careers.

The Importance of Veterinary Technicians
GET INVOLVED Supporting the Veterinary Nurse Initiative will drive change to help veterinary technicians build a lifelong career around their passions. Photo courtesy of shutterstock.com/goodluz.
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From the Field shares insights from Banfield Pet Hospital veterinary team members. Drawing from the nationwide practice’s extensive research, as well as findings from its electronic veterinary medical records database and more than 8 million annual pet visits, this column is intended to explore topics and spark conversations relevant to veterinary practices that ultimately help create a better world for pets.

Key ingredients of delivering the best patient outcomes are a high standard of care and a team of dedicated, engaged, and skilled veterinary professionals.

Banfield recognizes the important role veterinary technicians play as a part of the provider team and believes that by respecting and empowering veterinary technicians, we all benefit: clients tend to be more engaged and well-informed, and the health and wellbeing of their pets may also benefit as a result.

Although the veterinary industry agrees veterinary technicians are of incredible value, we can’t seem to agree on what that looks like in day-to-day practice. This is further complicated by the variance in state practice acts. Many states lack a defined scope of practice, title protection, or title reciprocity for credentialed veterinary technicians. It is frustrating to hear from people who have been credentialed veterinary technicians for years and who lose their title when moving to a new state because of this variability.


For these reasons and many more, Banfield is a proud supporter of the Veterinary Nurse Initiative (VNI), an industry-wide initiative that aims to unite the profession under a single title, set of credentialing requirements, and scope of practice.

This effort aims to positively impact veterinary medicine in various ways, including redefining and standardizing the role of veterinary technicians with a new title: Registered Veterinary Nurse (RVN). Such a change could have the potential to help clients better understand our role—and underscore the skills and training we bring to the hospital team and the pets we care for, day in and day out. At Banfield, we support the VNI, including efforts to redefine veterinary technicians as “veterinary nurses.”


Rewarding Value with Value

Veterinary technician involvement in the profession is key. We have all heard about the problems veterinarians face, from veterinary student debt, to compassion fatigue, to suicide. Tragically, veterinary technicians also suffer from the same struggles—a reality that is critical and deserves both immediate attention and swift action. The industry must work together to create an environment that enables technicians to pursue a lifelong career in veterinary medicine without the burden of educational debt and related stress.

In the past year, we have put significant efforts into not only all Banfield associates but also the health and wellbeing of the veterinary technician population. In addition to increasing hourly pay and continuing education funding for all Banfield veterinary technicians in 2018, we are partnering with educational institutions to create pathways for additional development.

What motivated these efforts? It’s simple: our dedication for driving change is the opportunity we see to help veterinary technicians build a lifelong career around their passions. I have had many goosebumps-inducing moments listening to our technicians share how we have helped them engage with their work and how they feel their skills and education are being fully utilized for the betterment of their team and the quality of care their patients receive.

One of the most impactful things you can do is get involved and be a part of the conversations that are happening in your hospital and local veterinary community.


Engagement, Utilization, and Recognition

How can you drive similar efforts to help empower veterinary technicians? One of the most impactful things you can do is to get involved and be a part of the conversations that are happening in your hospital and local veterinary community. Whether it’s helping the people you work with better understand the veterinary technician role, becoming familiar with your state’s practice acts and educating your hospital on them, or representing the needs of veterinary technicians at your state’s veterinary board, we all have the ability to become advocates for the engagement, utilization, and recognition of veterinary technicians. It’s about being able to operate at the top of our license, and using our skills and education for the betterment of veterinary medicine.